Men have been encouraged to get involved in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) as an important aspect of addressing the social injustice against women and children.
According to Migori Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Programs Coordinator, Dr. Tobias Ogolla, most GBV violators are men and their involvement in the GBV movement will play a vital role.
Ogolla who officiated the launch of the 16 days of activism against GBV under the theme of ‘Activism against GBV on women and girls 2022’ noted that male involvement will unlock the menace and champion the county to social economic development.
“Our women experience both verbal and physical violence when they return late from selling their produce at the market place yet these are some of the major activities steering our economic growth and revenue collection,” said Ogolla.
Migori County Culture Director, Ms. Linet Atieno, emphasised that the county is focused on ensuring girls are safe from rape, teenage pregnancies and early marriages as well as harmful practices like Female Genital Mutilation.
She affirmed that the county has been providing bursaries to the bright but needy girls to ensure that they get an education, as a tool that will unlock social injustice that women get subjected to in society.
Atieno, however, noted that the county formulated Sexual Harassment and Gender Based Violence County Policy (SGBV) but has not been fully operationalized to address key issues that include girl child education, FGM and child labour as key indicators to solving violence and discrimination against women and girls.
The 2019 SGBV policy also focused on issues of HIV and Aids infections, teenage pregnancy and early marriages as issues that fuel violence against women.
Deputy County Commissioner, Mr. Benson Karani, outlined that early marriages, adolescent pregnancies and FGM as the main factors that predispose women to violence.
He said that girls are forced into marriage because of pregnancies which result in domestic violence. Karani pinpointed that lack of cash to take care of the young family, lack of understanding on how to become a mother and the torment of dropping out of school were some of the factors that arise from adolescent pregnancies and early marriages.
Karani explained that if men stood firm in the fight against the vice, society can be transformed into a better place to live in.
He, however, cautioned the public that the multiagency security team will be on the lookout for those men that do social injustice to women and girls and will deal with them ruthlessly.
The Administrator called upon the girl-child to speak about the violence as the only way for security apparatuses to be aware of.
“A lot of our girls have been threatened that harm will come their way if they speak about the social violence and injustice inflicted on them. I want to assure you that these men do these things to discourage you from speaking the truth and if you don’t guilt will always be part of your entire life”, noted Karani.
He promised that the security team in partnership with the County Executive, GBV actors and Civil Society Groups will enforce GBV laws to deal with gender violators.
Last month the County Gender stakeholder’s Committee Chaired by Migori Director of Gender, Mr. Kennedy Oomo, established that the County has made tremendous efforts to curb GBV as well as FGM, reducing it by almost 50 percent.
The committee, however, established that other forms of GBV were cropping up, especially for women suffering from lifestyle diseases like cancer.
Oomo acknowledged that the committee had received information of cancer patients being chased away from their matrimonial homes while others have been abandoned by close family members in the belief that they have been bewitched.
The County has also seen huge success in the male involvement against the FGM vice that has been associated with GBV. The initiative ‘Men Against FGM’ and the involvement of Kuria elders has hugely changed the mindset of the community and according to Mr. Karani, the incorporation of men in the GBV movement will be a stepping stone in the fight against the negative vice.
By Geoffrey Makokha